First Ferry's triple-deck ferry, Xin Guo, turns into Cheung Chau's harbour with Chi Ma Wan Peninsula of Lantau Island in the background, on the 55-minute scenic journey from Central Pier 5 on Hong Kong Island
Cheung Chau (Long Island) is located 12km south-west of Hong Kong Island close to the Chi Ma Wan Peninsular of Lantau Island. The small dumbbell shaped island, approximately 2.5 kms in length, effectively comprises two granite hills linked by a narrow central causeway. It has a population of around 24,500 most of which live in the central part of the island.
This endearing island which is full of colour, character and contrasts will prove something of a surprise to many visitors and is easily reached and well worth a visit.
GETTING THERE – Cheung Chau is served by frequent ferries from Central Pier 5 on Hong Kong Island and also by the approx two-hourly Inter-Island ferry service which links, Peng Chau, Mui Wo and Chi Ma Wan on Lantau, and Cheung Chau. Average daily patronage of the Central - Cheung Chau service during 2013 was 23,610. In August 2014 tenders were invited for a new Cheung Chau - Aberdeen ferry service but it is not yet known when this service is likely to commence.
There are two types of ferry in operation on the HK Island – Cheung Chau route. Fast Ferries which are high-speed catamarans with a passenger capacity of between 200 and 400 make the journey in 30 minutes and large triple deck “Ordinary” ferries with a passenger capacity of between 1200 and 1700 which take 50 minutes to reach Cheung Chau. Unless time is an important consideration most visitors will find the “Ordinary Ferry” preferable. These ferries have decks you can wander about, an air conditioned deluxe class on the top deck with an outdoor sun deck and there are excellent views of Victoria Harbour, outlying islands and all types of shipping along the journey. Octopus Card can be used to upgrade to deluxe cabin for up to 10 minutes after ferry departure (by means of a portable Octopus machine staffed by a crew member located at the foot of the steps leading up to the deluxe cabin). Whilst Fast Ferries offer a quicker journey, sealed passenger cabin windows and sea spray means that visibility is often poor.
Ferries operate at roughly 30 minute intervals during the daytime and evening and there are also a few sailings between midnight and 6am. On Sundays and Public Holidays ferries operate at an increased frequency.
Ordinary Ferry from Central arriving in Cheung Chau Harbour
Arriving at the island the ferry enters the busy harbour. The island has a large fishing fleet and trawlers can usually be seen berthed alongside craft of all descriptions including, sampans, junks, kaidos and houseboats.
Part of Cheung Chau's large fishing fleet at anchor in Cheung Chau Harbour
The ferry pier is on the west side of the island next to the Praya which is lined with seafood restaurants and small shops.
Ferry Pier entrance
Cheung Chau Promenade (Praya)
Apart from some small police, fire and ambulance vehicles the only other powered vehicles on the island are motorised carts weaving along the narrow streets.
Cheung Chau's miniature fire brigade on a training excercise
Cycling is popular and two seat tricycles with sun canopies can be hired from shops on the harbour side on Praya Street and Tai Hing Road and these are an enjoyable way to explore the flat western side of the island.
Tricycles for hire
On the opposite side of the causeway on the eastern side of the island is the sandy Tung Wan Beach and at just round the corner beyond the Warwick Hotel at the southern end of the beach is the attractive Kwun Yam Bay and Cheung Chau Windsurfing Centre.
Tung Wan Beach
The famous Cheung Chau Bun Carnival takes place every year in late April or early May and its focal point is the colourfully decorated Pak Tai Temple, named after the god of the same name, being the “protector of fishermen”, “guardian of peace” and “military protector”. The highlights of the festival are the Piu Sik (Floating Colours) Parade, featuring "floating children" and the finals of the Bun Scrambling Competition which involves the climbing of the tall bamboo bun towers, a tradition only recently resurrected. These events take place on the 8th day of the fourth moon in the lunar calendar but special events also take place island in the preceeding two or three weeks and the island can become very crowded with both local and overseas visitors. The temple is located north of the ferry pier. To get there walk along the harbour side northwards from the pier until reaching a floodlit sports ground with all weather football pitch. The temple is visible behind this sports ground. During 2011 the Bun Festival become one of four cultural events in Hong Kong to be placed China's national list of intangible cultural heritage. For details see CHEUNG CHAU BUN FESTIVAL
Pak Tai Temple, focal point of the Cheung Chau Bun Festival
The narrow streets between the ferry pier and Tung Wan Beach are packed with restaurants and shops selling all types of goods including dried seafood, meats, fruit and vegetables, clothes, electrical goods, herbal medicines, jewellery, hardware and flowers.
San Hing Street
Away from the central causeway the island becomes much quieter and very scenic. There are craggy hillsides, quiet bays and beaches, rocky outcrops, temples, a pirates cave and even a “Mini Great Wall”.
HARBOUR SAMPAN RIDE - A sampan ferry service from the public pier (adjacent to the main ferry pier) through the harbour to Sai Wan Pier which is within easy walking distance for the Tin Hau Temple and Cheung Po Tsai Cave. The journey takes around 10 minutes and is a good way to see the harbour activity and south west side of the island. The ferry operates at approximately 20 minute intervals from 07-00 to 20-30 daily with increased frequency on Sundays and Public Holidays to meet demand. The fare is HK$5 each way for visitors (HK$3 for locals). In addition to the ferry service, there are also usually several sampan operators touting for business at the public pier.
Cheung Chau - Sai Wan sampan ferry at Cheung Chau Public Pier
FAMILY TRAIL WALK - A walk around at least part of the island is a “must” and there is a signed family trail around the island. The walk around the whole island takes about three and a half hours but the walk around the southern half of the island is the more interesting and takes about two hours. There are tourist information boards at various points around the island showing the route and present location.
Information boards show the Family Trail route
From the ferry pier walk along Tung Wan Road (almost next to Circle K convenience store) to Tung Wan Beach and on the way (near Park N’Shop supermarket) look out for the sacred Banyan Tree with its shrine. Follow the path along the beach below the Warwick Hotel where there is an ancient 3000 year old rock carving.
Cheung Chau's 3000-year old rock carving, protected by glass case
Continue along the path, past the rock carving to Kwun Yam Beach where the Cheung Chau Windsurfing Centre is located and where Hong Kong's only Olympic medallist, Lee Lai-shan, who won gold for windsurfing in Atlanta in 1996 trained. From the beach climb the steps inland and at a junction of several paths follow the Mini Great Wall. This is something of a misnomer, being simply a path, but it follows a scenic headland, passing Loaf Rock and Human Head Rock, and has wonderful scenic views across to Lamma Island and the southern coast of Hong Kong Island.
Cheung Chau's "Mini Great Wall", part of the Family Trail has scenic coastal views
Climb the steps up to Fa Peng and on reaching a modern Mediterranean style housing development at Fa Peng Knoll head left along Don Bosco Road, the path that leads to Nam Tan Wan. Keep on the path that leads to the secluded rocky beach where there is a Tin Hau Temple.
Nam Tam Wan and (left), Tin Hau Temple
Continue along the path past the temple and end of the beach and climb the steps to rejoin Don Bosco Road. Head left and shortly the path joins Peak Road. At this junction head left again along Peak Road through a residential area with views across the densely populated central causeway until reaching a convergance of paths at a pavilion. Here follow the path (Peak Road West) on the left which leads uphill alongside a school and then further along through the large cemetery and crematorium.
Cheung Chau Peak Road West, through Cheung Chau Cemetery
Beyond the crematorium is a path on the left leading down to the secluded and mostly deserted Pak Tso Wan, known to local westerners as "Italian Beach" and then round the coastline past Reclining Rock to the Cheung Po Tsai pirates cave.
Pak Tso Wan "Italian Beach"
The relatively agile can follow this path. When the tide is high some climbing over rocks across Po Yue Wan (the small bay beyond Reclining Rock) is required. Look for the concrete footstep markers across the rocks. Note - the path leading around Po Yue Wan has been closed for safety reasons but is still passable with care. An alternative is to simply keep following Peak Road West instead of taking the path to Pak Tso Wan. Peak Road West joins the path leading to Cheung Tsai Po Cave at a barbecue area. Just beyond Po Yue Wan it appears that the path reaches a dead end but don’t be tempted to turn back. The narrow path actually disappears down between some rocks and steps climb through the rocks to join the path leading from Peak Road West down to the Cheung Po Tsai Cave.
Entrance to Cheung Po Tsai Pirate's Cave
From the cave return to Peak Road West then follow the path leading to the Tin Hau Temple and continue along the harbour side path from Sai Wan along the promenade and back to the ferry pier or if preferred take the kaido ferry from Sai Wan Pier through the harbour to the ferry pier.
EXTENDED WALK - The walk can be extended to the whole island by continuing along the the harbour side past the shipyard area along Cheung Kwai Road where there is a sandy beach and views across the busy Adamasta Channel and ferries scurrying between Hong Kong and Macau and Pearl River Delta ports. Just past a modern residential development Scenic Garden climb follow Cheung Pak Road uphill and then a path on the left which leads to a helicopter landing pad and spectacular views down to Tung Wan Tsai (Coral Beach) below.
It is possible to follow the path down to the beach below and walk across the pebbly beach from where another path and steps lead back up to Cheung Pak Road via a series of pavilions.
Pak Kok Tsui Headland (on the "extended" Family Trail Walk)
At the top of Cheung Pak Road before the reservoir follow the path leading back towards the centre of the island past another cemetery and Tin Hau Temple before reaching the Pak Tai Temple, focal point of the Bun Festival. From there it’s a short walk along either Tung Wan Beach or the harbour side back to the ferry pier.
Sushi on the menu at the popular Japanese-run Hometown Teahouse on Tung Wan Road
STAYING OVERNIGHT – Accommodation is usually readily available on the island except at weekends when the island becomes much busier and can be more difficult to find without booking ahead. Popular choices are;
The 3 star WARWICK HOTEL is located on Tung Wan Beach and is popular with both Hong Kong locals and overseas visitors. Some rooms are a little outdated but have balconies overlooking the beach;
B&B CHEUNG CHAU, a delightful guest house which has quickly become very popular since being established in 2006. There are 14 rooms and 4 suites located in two buildings on Tung Wan Road, just 2 minutes walk from the ferry pier, one minute walk from the beach, a further 4 rooms, one family room and group room for up to 8 people, located in two buildings on Pak She Street near Pak Tai Temple, venue for the Cheung Chau Bun Festival. This establishment has friendly staff, spotlessly clean, modern, well equipped compact rooms and also some suites. Rates include breakfast and wi-fi access in rooms and has roof garden with panoramic views.
The homely B&B Cheung Chau guest house offers excellent budget accommodation
MIAMI RESORT has over 100 rooms, located by Tung Wan Beach. Reception is at Bela Vista on Kwok Man Road. Also have kiosk in front of ferry pier on San Hing Praya Street. Accommodation can usually be booked on arrival;
SAN HING PRAYA STREET ACCOMMODATION STANDS located by the ferry pier are operated by various property owners and open daily, often until midnight or later. Here you can view pictures of various types of inexpensive apartments or rooms before making your choice.
One of about 15 accommodation stands located outside Cheung Chau Ferry Pier. Here visitors can browse display albums of various accommodation before making a choice.
An excellent comprehensive website by local freelance writer, journalist and photographer Dr Martin Williams;
Pictures and video of the Cheung Chau Bun Festival;
Latest real time Cheung Chau webcam weather photograph from Hong Kong Observatory;